A5C Student Rooms Searched By Staff in Emergency Measure

Early on 4 March, some students in the A5C residence building had their morning routines interrupted when a team of staff from Public Safety and ...

Mar 7, 2015

Early on 4 March, some students in the A5C residence building had their morning routines interrupted when a team of staff from Public Safety and Residential Education knocked on their doors.
The team conducted the search of student residences because of an urgent need to locate a student, a situation that was resolved later that day.
During the search, those who were inside their rooms could choose whether or not to let the team inside; those who were not home still had their rooms searched without permission. The team did not post any notices on the doors of rooms to indicate to absent residents that a search had happened. Other students present at the time were asked to remain inside the building until they were told they could leave.
Dean of Students David Tinagero, in a school-wide email, assured students of the importance that the university places on student privacy, saying that the decision to enter student rooms had not been taken without significant consideration.
Senior and A5C resident Bobby Haynes said that he initially didn’t think the search was a significant issue.
“They were just looking for a person,” he said. “You poke your heads in, ask if someone is there and, if you’re not, you leave.”
Upon further reflection, however, Haynes recalled an incident last year that shifted his perception of the recent search. According to Haynes, someone from Residential Education had entered a student’s room last semester and found items in violation of university rules. The student had been written up, despite the fact that the staff member had entered the room for a purpose unrelated to the possession of forbidden articles.
“I remember … it going on their permanent record when it had nothing to do with the purpose for which [the staff was] in the room,” Haynes continued.
With that in mind, Haynes considered the incident to be a big breach of privacy, noting that absent students had not been notified before or while staff were searching their rooms.
“I understand this was very urgent, but people read their emails all the time here,” said Haynes. “They could have send something out saying … we’re browsing through the building, expect a public safety person [to] ask if you’re in. Or if you’re not, to just poke their heads in the room.”
A student had warned fellow classmates on NYU Abu Dhabi’s Room of Requirement Facebook page, an online forum for frequently asked questions, about the residence search. Five minutes later, the post was taken down.
In correspondence with The Gazelle, Dave Tinagero reiterated the message in his email.
“Our first priority is always the safety and wellbeing of members of our community. We are very fortunate to have a small and caring community of individuals who support each other in times of need and I am pleased that this situation was resolved in a way that ensured the safety of our community members.”
“When a situation warrants a search, our decision-making aligns with language that was reviewed and approved by the [Campus Life] Policy Committee and the General Assembly last semester,” he added.
The university’s policy on room entry states that, in cases of immediate need, administration can enter students’ private residential areas. Immediate need is defined as concern towards the welfare of a student or an urgent maintenance need.
Chair of Campus Life Policy Committee Nick Chaubey said that he shared concerns about student privacy, and that the committee has met with university administrators multiple times to address the room entry policy with university administrators, among them Deputy Dean of Students Donna Eddleman.
“In our advisory capacity, we provided feedback on a room entry policy and worked to find the right balance between our expectation of privacy and the need for university staff to access rooms in necessary situations,” said Chaubey, citing situations like health and wellness emergencies or a water pipe burst.
Chaubey felt that in the search on 4 March, university concerns had sufficiently outweighed privacy expectations, and that the university staff had searched the dorms on a legitimate basis.
“This would mean the actions taken are supported by the room entry policy language that was agreed upon last semester,” said Chaubey.
“I ask any student with concerns about policies to reach out to our committee, and I look forward to continually engaging with our partners in administration,” added Chaubey.
Retraction: 9 March 2015
A previous version of this article claimed that Residential Education asked the student in question to take down his or her Facebook post. We have found this claim to be below the standard of reporting as upheld by our Code of Conduct. We apologize for any distress caused to the student. 
Melinda Szekeres is news editor. Email her at
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